Saturday, July 2, 2011

Aji V.N. and Sosa Joseph at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke

A new group exhibition of watercolors by artists including Kiki Smith, Nilima Sheikh, Tran Luong, Aji V.N., Ambreen Butt, Sosa Joseph, KH Ara, Bhupen Khakhar and Atul Dodiya takes place at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai.

Focused on the expressive nature of painting and on its poetic content, Aji V.N. originally from Kerala has been living and working in Rotterdam for ten years; it is the geographical and cultural space that lies between the two that stimulates his interest. The barren landscapes depicted in his drawings populated with thorny and elaborately contorted plants reference the dead landscapes of Persian miniature painting.

Yet whether this landscape is menacing or enchanted is to a certain extent irrelevant because as the artist explains, despite being figurative, these drawings are largely hermetic, withdrawn from subject matter, and principally concerned with a series of formal moves. Aji V.N.'s use of charcoal has the tactile richness of a finely grained, multi-layered surface, the graphite sometimes so intense, so unrelenting as if it were a recording of some endless, existential experience. The blackness extends over the entire paper, as if rubbed in, almost incised into the surface.

On the other hand, embodying images drawn from the world around her – mainly the graphic experience of coastal living in Kerala – Sosa Joseph has, like many other artists through history, investigated the emotional and spatial qualities of her environment and that of her personal life, blurring the boundaries between the two in works that have a comprehensive visual impact.

In both her small and large format paintings we confront the artist's world of reality crossed with fantasy: nature, often aqueous, spills over with the catch of the day stacked high in nets and baskets, crabs and shrimps still scuttling for shelter. There is a frequent withdrawal into domestic space with representations of pots and pans and still-life arrangements of cutlery, crockery, flowers and fruit. An added depth is proposed by the sensuality suggested by movements and textures.

(Information courtesy: Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke)

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